Shaka Smart turns down Illinois coaching job

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Shaka Smart will pass on the Illinois coaching job at stay at VCU, multiple reports indicated Wednesday.

Smart, 34, has been aggressively pursued by the Illini during the last few days in their search to replace Bruce Weber. The school reportedly offered Smart a contract worth $2.5 million a year – he makes about $1.3 million at VCU – but Smart said no. One report indicated the contract was for $2.7 million annually for seven years.

(Illinois may come back with a bigger offer, too.)

Smart’s 84-27 in three seasons at VCU, but it’s his 6-2 NCAA tournament record and recruiting reputation that makes him so appealing. He took VCU to the Final Four in 2011 and led the Rams to another NCAA tournament win this season, beating No. 5 Wichita State last Thursday.

Now what for Illinois?

The Chicago Sun-Times reports Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton is interested in the job, but at 63, his age would seem to be a detriment.

Duke assistant Chris Collins and Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin also have shown interest in the job.

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